Monthly Archives: September 2012
“…if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the One you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” – 2 Corinthians 11:4
Have you ever questioned, rather than presumed, as to whether you are in the faith? “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves…” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Many professing Christians will not tolerate the true gospel. The gospel, according to the New Testament Jesus Christ, is not just challenging at the beginning but throughout the Christian life: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Christianity is hard and countless confessing evangelicals cannot stand hearing anything that exposes sin and what promotes sanctification; they just want to hear ‘happy’ messages that trigger off sentimental emotions; they flock to hear positive topics that induce feelings of peace with themselves, their ego and what evokes shallow ‘waves’ of love. Anything deemed ‘negative’ that confronts their justifying, compromise and love of sin, they automatically ‘switch off’ with the excuse that there is enough pessimism in the world as it is; why have more unhappiness in a messed-up world?
The message of the one and only Gospel of Jesus Christ was never watered down and made palatable for first century Christians despite barbaric persecution hounding the Church, but false gospels and those who propagated them were exposed outright for what they were and the apostle who wrote the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13 stated, not just once, “…there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a different gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:7-9). Apart from when he said, “Rejoice in the Lord; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), this is the only other time he repeated himself. They are not harsh words, as many would deem politically incorrect today; they are right words, they are biblical; not an outburst of some personal bias or agenda. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” Paul gave the ‘blow’ where it was needed with the desire to bring about repentance and restoration.
Paul’s rebukes were only followed by encouragement when believers were obedient in the faith; that is why we read of much encouragement throughout the epistles because the majority of the churches were already in the faith and obedient there unto. How can anyone receive comfort and encouragement if they yet remain outside of Christ or are walking contrary to the life they were called unto? Yet today, many are embracing a false Christ. It has become a ‘trend’, a fashion to say, “I’m a Christian” without understanding what it means to be a Christian anymore than wearing a cross for jewellery’s sake. Because there are so few who preach the sound gospel, many will continue to believe and embrace an imitation, which in essence is a distortion.
Sadly, on the other hand, when the true gospel has been preached, it has been widely rejected by the majority in America, especially and of all places: in the Bible-belt, which I call the Babel-belt because it’s so riddled with spiritual confusion. This is not just statistics from other preachers but also from personal observation. Many church attendees are more comfortable with a man-made gospel. The fact that truth stings means we are at home with lies.
There was once a time when preachers spoke as prophets; they had no fear of man, only of God. There was no political-correctness then, no diplomatic approaches. Paul said that if he was trying to please man, he would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). How many pastors please their congregations rather than God, but what they do not realize is accountability for their souls. Robert Murray M’Cheyne preached and pastored in such a way that no-one within his congregation will have excuse on the Day of Judgement if they did not turn to the Saviour; they heard the gospel resonating every time they congregated; each soul was earnestly prayed for and challenged with the reality of eternity.
Today, the sharp, double-edged sword of God’s Word has been traded for a feather – a more comfortable gospel that pampers to the sin this generation will not renounce. I would rather have a wounded soul, to truly hear the voice of God, than to hear false prophets who say, “Peace, peace…it shall be well with you” when instead, I still stand in judgement with God.
Such a density of darkness presides over Westernised cultures that wrong from right and vice-versa is no longer discerned; no-one cares for the truth, they just want to be ‘happy’, but that isn’t what Christianity is all about. We are a generation that refuses to listen to truth and when we do hear it, we scorn it. We may listen to part truth, but only what tickles our fancy. Again, that is not Christianity; it is not about choosing our preferences but denying our rights so that God takes up His abode in our lives. Do we know what that entails? In what way do we consider the fact that we are no longer our own? Are we aware that as Christians we are bond-slaves of Jesus Christ?
Is this a language distasteful that stifles sentimental-inspiration that has no ground whatsoever in the true gospel? The presence of God will disturb and upset everything that is not built on solid ground, “Woe is me for I am undone…my eyes have seen the Lord of hosts.” There is no peace until we walk with Him in obedience. The early Church knew the God of comfort and peace; they encountered that as they walked in the will of God. Their obedience to Him brought upon them the world’s hatred, but they knew the God of hope Who poured out His love into their hearts. “Our cross will be determined by whatever pain and suffering and trouble which will yet come to us because of our obedience to the will of God. The true saints of God have always borne witness that wholehearted obedience brings the cross into the light quicker than anything else” – A.W. Tozer.
How can God be a friend unto us if we are at home with this world? We cannot mix the both, for if we do, we reveal that we are still at enmity with God and no amount of ‘feel good’ preaching will alter the fact that we still await the just verdict of God’s righteous judgement.
The one and true gospel of Jesus Christ is what reconciles us to God, breaking down the wall of hostility whereby we know His peace and joy; it is never earned but demands our soul, our life, our all.